Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Costa Mesa’s 60th Kick Off Celebration and the Six Month Hangover.

Most of us have done something like this. Taken a large group of friends or colleagues out for a nice celebratory meal. Grandly hosted over the table as the food was served and the wine flowed. Only to suddenly realize that you just blew through all your money set aside for the mortgage. The waiter delivers the bill in a black leather folder and it sits at the edge of your elbow.......but you’re too afraid to glance at it. Even worse, what are you going to tell your spouse?

Well, the City of Costa Mesa had a 60th Celebration “Kick Off” Event, over seven months ago, and we still haven’t seen the final bill.

Originally the City Council , led by Mayor Jim Righeimer, voted to outlay a preliminary amount of $125,000 for the celebration of the city’s 60th anniversary. The fiscal impact analysis stated that the budget would need a total of $315,000, but only $125,000 would be needed from the City’s General Fund. Most of the remaining money would be raised through other revenue sources and sponsorships. The initial preliminary budget provided to the public painted a “pie in the sky” portrayal of large donations and fundraising opportunities that would fully fund the event with a tidy sum of $13,575 left over.

The Main “Kick Off “ event took place at the end of June, a little before the OC Fair was to begin.
The three day event, closed down Fair Drive and took up a good portion of the OC Fairgrounds Parking lot, right across from City Hall. $154,750.00 was budgeted for tents, stages, entertainment, rides, security, lights, power, booths, fireworks, the list goes on...and on.

 Now the City of Costa Mesa used to have a fully functioning print shop with an accomplished graphics department , but that was dismantled under the Righeimer regime as too “costly and unnecessary”, so a special Graphics artist was “outsourced” for this project ($6,000). The “Commemorative” magazine another $20,000. Banners, flyers, and stickers,and bill inserts for another $32,000. Souvenirs-$20,000, with a caveat that they would be revenue generating. Initially, an additional $94,025.00 was budgeted to cover these additional costs. After all, any great event needs proper PR and Marketing.

Costa Mesa City Staff recommended that they channel any funds related to the 60th anniversary celebration through the Costa Mesa Foundation. The Costa Mesa Community Foundation is made up of a group of appointed respected active residents.

A 60th Celebration Committee was appointed using a broad diverse section of appointed residents willing to serve in a non-partisan “shoulder to shoulder” effort to pull this event off and make it a great success that the City could be proud of. Everything seemed to be in place with public oversight and input established to monitor the run the event.

What could possibly go wrong?

Some residents early on had been hearing rumors being swirled that everything was not going exactly as planned or promised, but it wasn’t until mid July a few weeks after the event that the first story broke publicly. On July 11th , reporter Bradley Zint from the Daily Pilot wrote:

Concerns raised about Costa Mesa's birthday party
City's 60th anniversary bash had its ups and downs; financial reports aren't due in for a week or two, officials say.

Now, many of the complaints at this time were pretty benign. Volunteers being mistreated, running out of cake plates, falsely advertising the Foo Fighters as a headliner, and a lack of financial reports. At this July 11th 60th Committee meeting, City CEO Tom Hatch praised the event and assured the residents that the numbers would be released and finalized in another week or two as invoices were still coming in. He went on further to forewarn that the event might incur the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau to incur “some shortfall in revenue”.

Concerned citizens following up on rumors swirling about the cost over runs submitted Public Records requests as early as July 23rd. Those requests included:

* Copies of RFPs and bids for contracts issued and considered but not issued
* Executed copies of contracts with all amendments including food concessions and entertainment
* Invoices and payments for all contractors
* Staff time spent on the project including overtime
* Public safety staff time spent on project including overtime
* Records about ticket sales for concert and VIP areas including free/comp tickets
Budget information and records for the event

On July 25th CEO Tom Hatch, informally communicated to the citizen requesting the documents that , “the city will need more time because not all of the invoices are in yet.”

A “Wrap Up” meeting, some called it an “autopsy”, was scheduled to review the event and discuss it’s downfalls and successes with all the volunteers present in the City Hall chambers.
That meeting was scheduled for August 8th,.....but it never came to be.

On Aug 6th, the two city employees principally responsible for organizing the event were placed on paid administrative leave.

More Trouble Brewing At City Hall?

On that same day, August 6th, acting City Clerk Brenda Green asks for an additional 14 more days to assemble the records because “the extension of time is reasonably necessary for the proper processing of the request, requiring multiple levels of review and examination of potentially voluminous amounts of separate and distinct records.”

Unbeknownst to anyone at this time is that six days earlier, on July 31st, Costa Mesa’s CEO Tom Hatch ordered an independent forensic audit of the 60th anniversary event finances claiming, “ this was the day that he learned about concerns that some city policies and procedures may not have been followed”. This is 8 days after the formal public records request, which were requested by the public for the very same reasons Tom Hatch claims he initiated an audit.

Now on Friday August 9th employees are seen transferring boxes from City Hall to the Costa Mesa Police Dept.

What Was Removed From City Hall Friday?

Six days later on August 15th, the City facing enormous scrutiny and questions by local reporters, finally, and formally announce that the employees were actually placed on leave.

Now others begin to also ask requests for the public documents and contracts regarding the 60th Celebration.
Nick Gerda , reporter at The Voice of OC, specifically requests contracts and invoices pertaining to the Food and Beverage component of the event. All Food and Beverage for the Celebration was given to the company KB Events.
This was dictated to the 60th Celebration Citizens Committee, by Events Coordinator Dan Joyce. Many on the Committee at this time were somewhat disconcerted that the decision was made “for” them. At this same time it was also made clear that all entertainment would be handled by an unknown entity Sun Group LLC. 
KB events is the company partnered by the wife of GOP Chairman Scott Baugh, a close friend of Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer, with whom they share office space. Further investigation of KB Events led this writer to discover that the partners also included an entity solely named as CAAevent Industry- Food and Beverag Events.
Local insiders reviewing this information have been led to suspect that the CAA entity is actually the California Apartments Association. A known Lobbying Political PAC supporter of Baugh and Righeimer, with large political donations made towards the failed Costa Mesa “Righeimer” Charter in the last election.

KB Events partner and spokesperson, Gary Kutscher, confirmed that preliminary profit and loss numbers from the event were emailed to City on Aug. 6th, just hours before the two city employees were placed on leave.

On Aug 29th, Barbara Venezia the irrepressible ,insider columnist for the OC Register, wrote about the swirling controversy.

Venezia: Politics or missed communications for 60th party costs

It wasn’t until five days later, on Sept 3rd that CEO Tom Hatch finally made a statement and the City lawyered up , refusing to release all the Public Documents pertaining to KB Events citing an ongoing personnel and police investigations.

Costa Mesa Won't Release Records on GOP Chairman’s Firm

This statement was made 42 days after the first public records requests were submitted by the residents back on July 23rd.
At this same Council Meeting, CEO Hatch, for the first time, declares he “ordered an independent forensic audit of the 60th anniversary event finances on July 31, the day that I learned about concerns that some city policies and procedures may not have been followed.”

He went on further to declare that he initiated new precautionary measures, such as:

A refresher training course for all employees involved in purchasing
Establish  a Purchasing Quality Control Committee, headed by the city’s finance director, Purchasing Department personnel and other city departments representatives.
Review the city’s current purchasing policies
Review the processes for engaging the Costa Mesa Foundation, used for the administration of the 60th anniversary event’s finances.
Meet monthly to review the city’s purchasing records and provide another layer of quality control to ensure implementation of municipal policies and procedures

CEO Hatch ended his statement requesting the publics “patience” through this process.

........and so we waited.

Each few weeks another City Council meeting, and more and more warrants and bills were being paid by public tax dollars with no public records of contracts or invoices provided to the public.

On Oct 14th Roland Barrera, the SUN Group LLC sole “no bid contractor”, chosen by the City to provide all the entertainment , buys a local bar and turns it into an exclusive “speakeasy”.

Casa Trades Avalon Bar's Punk Past For An Upscale Speakeasy

Barrera is quoted in the article, “You can't cater to the masses and maintain quality."

September, more bills being paid.....we waited.

November. Wait...... Wait.

December this happened......A local businessman, Roland Barrera, who was paid tens of thousands of dollars by Costa Mesa to act as a consultant during the city's 60th anniversary celebration is suspected of participating in a Ponzi scheme that cheated a Newport Beach man out of millions, according to a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dec 23rd,  the Daily Pilot gets impatient and starts counting up the amount of money paid out through the City using the warrants posted in the public records. The amount is nearing $400,000, on a party that originally had a working budget of $154,000.

In this article DP Reporter Jeremiah Dobruck states, “Over a period of more than six months, the city paid Barrera's company almost $127,000 — more than the entirety of Costa Mesa's authorized allocation.”

Still we wait some more.

January.......Costa Mesa City Spokesman William Lobdell - “"The results of the city's audit of the 60th anniversary celebration finances should be available by Jan. 15,"

So we waited some more.

January 27th - Our Costa Mesa Potstirrer asks, Where Are The 60th Anniversary Documents?

At the writing of this blog posting, this Costa Mesa resident has been waiting for the release of the public documents for 190 days.

.....but I am beginning to lose my patience.

More to come....

Friday, September 27, 2013

COSTA MESA - Riding w/ Righeimers 7th Calvary into Fairview Park......Bring On the Indians!!!!

Fairview Park Wetlands Riparian Pool
Costa Mesa's Fairview Park is like an un-polished gem. For those of you, who have never heard of it, it's 208 natural acres on the west side of the mesa, set high up on an ocean view bluff.

Let that sink in a bit.....over two hundred acres of centrally located orange county land in it's somewhat pristine, naturally undisturbed state, on an ocean view bluff.   It's been grazed on and plowed occasionally, but has never , ever, been "developed".

Fairview, ( named after one of the historic boomtowns of Costa Mesa), got it's name in the honest way, as vistas from the Park showcase everything from Saddleback to the LA mountains ranges, across the Santa Ana River flood plain, Point Loma to the North West, and out across to Catalina. On a clear winter morning after a rainstorm , when the sun turns the snowy mountains pink , and the cliffs of Catalina are crystal clear over the cobalt Pacific, there is not a more stunning view in all of Southern California. It's pretty special.

Fairview park aerial view before the Wetlands Riparian Project

 During the Mission period of SoCal history, the Spanish vaqueros used the bluffs to safely graze their cattle herds. They built the Estancia adobe and supplied the San Juan Capistrano mission with fresh meat, tallow, and leather. All this industry happening right here on this little patch of remaining Southern California open dirt. Historically speaking, this occurred roughly around the same time period that we were fighting a Revolution , and a little before France was to behead their King.

  The Pacific breezes cooled the temps, and the high bluff provided the Spanish Cattle herders with a safe dry elevated plain and easy access to fresh water resources in the marshy river below. Things were quieter on the Bluff. Although in 1818, California's only pirate, Hipólito de Bouchard, did use the adobe to stage raids against the mission, a mere six leagues to the south.
Costa Mesa Estancia Adobe, second oldest building in Orange County

  The Spaniards weren't the first to see the benefits of this perfect topography. For thousands of years the local Pacific Coastal Indigenous Tribes had also used this area. Sadly, during the Mission era, these peaceful people were decimated by malaria, measles and other diseases, while also suffering under the iron fist of the Spanish conversion into Mission life/slavery . What was once a vital and very important political and social village trading center, upon the Fairview bluff, was in essence, no more.

  Before the arrival of the Spanish, the local tribes flourished on the bluff. The natural topography and easy access to the river and ocean was a perfect space for a thriving village. It's centralized location made it an ideal gathering and trading spot for all the different southern California tribes. A water lined trail made easy traveling for many of the eastern Mohave and Mountain peoples. The centralized halfway point for the southern and northern tribes made it an equitable spot for everyone to gather without unduly bearing hardship on one or the other by having to travel unfair distances.
No.....Fairview was perfect. Even today, a mile from the ocean and a hundred feet above the river, you walk upon the shells of hundreds of clambakes, held thousands of years ago.

Cogged Stones

The numerous archeological finds of significant and unique importance, found in the park, and in nearby surrounding areas, have been federally registered, and designated as in need of protection. The clues, and treasures to so many questions and theories still lie beneath the surface. The Patayan anthropomorphic figurines, the mystical cogged stones, and the enigmatic Universe Effigy found down in nearby Wintersburg, are just a few of the astounding archeological riches found in this area.   
Universe Effigy

Why haven't you heard about all of this before now, you might ask? Well,....we didn't really want you to know.

The safest way to preserve these rare and precious clues to our past history has been to leave them where they are, undisturbed. No plans are currently in the works for an extensive and thorough excavation and preservation undertaking. We don't want people, and "pot hunters" playing "Indiana Jones" in the park , and destroying the knowledge we can uncover using modern archeological scientific techniques. We need to keep some things hidden.
Enjoy the Park, take a nice walk, take in the views, ........and then leave.
This has been the working plan for decades. We have been keeping it's secrets safe.

 Fairview Park has been locked up by the City of Costa Mesa in the Fairview Park Master Plan with numerous agreements and understandings through State and Federal Agencies to remain a "passive open space". We can use it, enjoy it, preserve it, even restore it, but not encroach or develop it. That was up until now.
For anyone who has been following anything about Costa Mesa politics knows,.....things here aren't what as they once were.
Mayor of Costa Mesa Jim Righeimer
  I could write a very long narrative about the devastating effects we have suffered in this City under the misguided policies of Mayor Jim Righeimer and his lock step cohorts, Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan
Today, we are not here to talk about the problems with public safety, the privatization of public assets, the mismanagement of resources, the cronyism, or the violation of municipal codes and the subsequent denials of the public's right to documents.
No, in Costa Mesa right now we have a whole other can of worms that we had to open. Self inflicted damage once again caused by a City Council whose sole operating procedure consists of...
"Fire, Ready, Aim".

Aided and abetted by a compromised City Staff that has been so decimated and reduced, that the only ones left are either too intimidated, or are so ineptly aligned to the Councils objectives that they get promoted to positions of authority. Righeimer's unnecessary attacks, or as we prefer to call it, "Jihad" against the employees have created many obvious and predicted consequences. One, being the loss of "Institutional Knowledge".
To be honest, we have no one left who knows "how to steer the ship".

This leads us to the current situation we find in ourselves in right now over how we are "stewarding" Fairview Park.

First , we had this:

Mystery trail focuses eco attention on Fairview Park

"Someone", just decided that they wanted to put in a trail leading to the Pop Warner Football fields , of which Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger is an ardent supporter. This was a pretty dumb thing to do.

First of all, they had no right to encroach upon the public park. The sad thing was that they used City resources to do it. Emails obtained by the public showed that not only did the City "scrape" the area before the trail was "unknowingly" put in, but they also "sprayed" herbicides to kill the weeds. This was done by the City at "someones behest" and there is a reference to a,"Steve's Path", in the emails. Many questioned if this path was somehow connected to the $650,000 lighting that was recently pushed through by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger even though Fairview Park has a "dawn to dusk" restriction.
They might have gotten away with this, but not when it is being done directly on top of Vernal Pools, which are listed on the Federal Register as Critically Endangered Habitat that harbors Federally Protected Endangered Species.  OOOOPS!

That got the attention of the Feds.....

Federal agency takes interest in Fairview trail

This is what happens when you don't take proper care of your things. The City at this point is not only  stewarding the resource improperly, they are actually an accomplice to the crime. Many residents found themselves stepping up to fill in the void.

Park boosters offer $500 reward

They are looking for information leading to person or persons responsible for vandalizing trails by laying decomposed granite on them.

 Which led us to Walt and Ty Harper, the two people who freely gave their names when asked by a witness who they were, and what they were doing when seen putting in the DG trail.

Personal Note: I believe these are just two good guys donating their time and energy to support youth sports. I think if you had asked these two guys what are " Fairy Shrimp" they would have answered, "Isn't that a bar in Laguna?'. I think, they didn't realize that they were encroaching upon Federally Critical and endangered habitat, they were just doing "someone" a favor. Sad thing is that "someone" might have known what they were doing was illegal but he had them do it anyway

Steve Mensinger is quoted in an article about Walt and Ty and says this,

 "If a group doesn't have enough money, he'll still do the work because he believes in Costa Mesa," Mensinger said. "He'll take the money if you have it, but he'll work with you." 

Which is kind of sad that Steve Mensinger might not have paid them , since the City of Costa Mesa just publicly gifted $96,000 of taxpayer funds to pay for the upkeep of Pop Warner fields to the Newport Mesa Unified School District. Surely, "someone" like Steve had better given them something....after all, it's not everyday you have "someone", like Steve, ask these guys to destroy Federally protected species and habitat in a public park,......but , then again, maybe for "someone", like Steve, it is, as you will see, about to get even worse.....


While "someone" in the City of Costa Mesa was just wantonly destroying the naturally federally protected areas in the Park.....we had others in The City acting in official roles planning even deeper encroachments.

In July, the Costa Mesa Parks and Recs Commission reviewed a project calling for a Fairview Park parking lot and Tot Lot Play Area. 45 spaces in a circular lot with landscaping.

Sounds nice,.....and on any other piece of city dirt , I, and many others would be perfectly fine with it.


This is not just any old a piece of dirt.....and they were supposed to be treating it with a lot more caution and respect. In fact, out of deference to the existing Master Plan for Fairview Park the 45 space lot was reduced down to 10 spaces. The size and location of the parking lot, that was to remain the same, they were just going to re-stripe it for ten spaces, because that is the maximum allowed in the Master Plan,......and Master Plans can be re-written. So the City of Costa Mesa Parks and Recs Commission , led by Chairman Byron De Arakal , led the vote which passed 4-1.

On a side note, P & R Chairman Byron De Arakal has a day job as a Public Relations spokesperson for a developer up in Montebello Hills trying to develop that city's last vestige of open space, he also was paid to help the polish the Fair Board's image during the last days of the Great OC Fairgrounds swindle....but I digress.

Mayor Jim Righeimer even scheduled a special "Meet the Mayor" event, where he twice called the Pacific Ave. entrance " a third world country" much to the residents ire.
Misguidedly, and against every speaker at public comments, that badly studied Parking Lot was voted on by the City Council. Where after much dissent and discussion it was approved by a slim 3-2 majority of Righeimer, Mensinger, and Monahan. Wendy Leece and Sandy Genis voted NO.

Proposed lot continues to irk residents

At that same meeting, a soft spoken French archeologist spoke out at public comments warning the City about the possible Archeological sites that would be impacted and encroached upon. In fact, this soft spoken gentleman at one point rose up from his seat to address misinformation that was being put forth by City Staff. Mayor Righeimer refused to let him speak , and made him sit down to bring the meeting back to order. Fact is, that gentleman was Sylvere Valentin, a respected and well trained local Archeologist who works with the California State Cultural Resource Office. What he was trying to gently warn the City Council and Staff was that they needed to notify some people before they moved forward with this project. He was summarily dismissed and ignored. Sadly, during the City's own presentation regarding the proposed lot incursion into Fairview Park they even mis-spelled the acronym for CEQA. When a City Staffer writes the California Environmental Quality Act as, "SEQUA", you know they aren't even treading water.

That's right. In one area, of the Park, you have Federal Fish and Wildlife studying the degradation of federally protected endangered habitat. Then just days later and a few hundred yards away, you have other State Agency representatives studying the area planned for a parking lot and finding significant areas of archeological interest and picking up bone fragments.

This story just broke in the Daily Pilot while I was writing this blog post:

Archaeological concerns fuel Fairview debate

Experts fear that proper procedures are not being followed, at the expense of very significant historical evidence.

"You are standing on top of a bluff where people have lived for at least 3,000 years,"

As she, ( Archeologist Patricia Marzt) and Valentin ,(That's the gentleman Righiemer told to" sit down", seems he got back up again), headed back, they noted that even some safety railings, recently added along the park bluffs, may have violated CEQA,(They know how to spell it), guidelines. The poles had to be dug into the ground, which disturbs the soil. "What if they went through a skull?" Martz asked. "It's just a culturally sensitive area."
She and Valentin are bringing the matter to the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, a small Irvine-based nonprofit formed in 1998. Martz is the group's president.
"Everything is kind of nebulous," she said. "I don't know if this will stop the project, but they've got to do something to protect a National Register site."

 God Bless Patricia, but she just doesn't know who she's dealing with....If she thinks they need to "do something", I need to walk her over a few yards to a Vernal Pool. Let her hang out awhile and have drinks with the US Fish and Wildlife folks.

Costa Mesa City, ...CEO , never get that right,....Tom Hatch received this letter, which gently chides them, put firmly tells them in no uncertain terms that they have thoroughly screwed up.

"Today’s standards, customs and practices regarding environmental review under CEQA,
include consultation with Native American tribes.  We see no evidence that this occurred in the
preparation of the environmental documents in 1997.  This omission should be corrected and
we recommend government-to-government consultation with the Gabrielino and Juaneño tribes. 
In addition, we recommend contacting the Native American Heritage Commission to determine
if there are sacred sites located in Fairview Park and most likely descendants."

"We also respectfully resquest that the City Council reconsider it's vote regarding the Fairview Park Entryway Concept Plans. '

  Now in the City's defense, they are now hiring their own "expert"...because if there is one thing the City of Costa Mesa knows how to do better than any other municipality, it's how to pay for an opinion. When it comes to outside consultants and raising legal fees, nobody even comes close to Costa Mesa.

 Soon they are going to realize that they are trying to "steward" one of the few sites in Orange County listed on the National Register. Many more people are about to get much more interested. Sadly, some of them might just be "Indiana Jones" pot hunters.

 Currently many of the locals are very energized.
Another Costa Mesa non-partisan group called, Friends of Fairview Nature Park, have been right on top of this issue since the first dumping of the illegal trail on top of the Vernal Pool, now better known as "Steves Path".
So far they have joined up with the Banning Ranch Conservancy trying to help save the nearby last natural swath of untouched Coastal Bluff next door in Newport Beach.
Banning Ranch located just south of Fairview Park

 Sign their petition

City of Costa Mesa: Keep Fairview park natural and Pacific Avenue safe. 

This issue is far from over. Fairview Park is definitely in jeopardy. The current City Council majority is moving forward with everything in their power to take over and develop this gem of Orange County History
The next meeting regarding the Parks future will be held next Wednesday, October 2, 2013.  The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee meets  again in the Victoria Room at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This is the group that has been put together to study the future needs and uses of Fairview Park, and open up the Master Plan.
There will be three presentations - one from Gordon Bowley, President of Costa Mesa United; one from Hank Castignetti of the Orange County Model Engineers and a presentation on Youth Sports Data coordinated by member Brett Eckles. 
Gordon Bowley from Costa Mesa United was pictured  above giving $96,000 of Costa Mesa City money to NMUSD, and Fairview Park Advisory Committee member Brett Eckles is the AYSO regional Supervisor and President of the American Subcontractors Association of California , a developer lobbyist group.
They will be giving a presentation why we need to add Sports Fields into Fairview Nature Park.
 They have never had a presentation on the Archeological significance of the area.
I think we need to call the Indians. 









Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Sunny Winter Westside Update

Sorry friends, for the long winter hibernation.  The Westside is really in bloom and in urgent need of a new blog update. So here we go.........

New Business on 19th West!!!!

Big Belly Deli

Sorry if the pic throws anyone off their appetite but a new Big Belly Deli HAS opened up in the old eVocal space on 19th West. These guys make awesome sandwiches ( literally two meals in one). They have their original location just down off PCH in west newport shores, but are here now and open for business. 

Mesa Verde may be celebrating ( finally) getting a new In-n-Out, (we've had ours forever), but new business ventures here on the Westside are greatly needed and appreciated. Our past restaurant start ups like Taco Mesa and Wahoo's, launched from right here, into restaurant fame. Lets make sure we embrace the BIG BELLY, eat there often and show support to these eclectic Westside Mom and Pop establishments. 

Focus on Schools



The little High School that could.......

Estancia High is the second smallest High school in Orange County,(Laguna Beach being the smallest). That notwithstanding , it offers some of the greatest programs around. 
We just came off a stellar football season , with an indominatble group of great young athletes with devoted adult commitment and leadership.

CETA Awards for 2011 "Theophilus North"

The award winning Drama department just competed and won numerous CETA Theatrical awards.

EHS Aquatics Girls and Boys BOTH went to CIF!!!

It ranks in the top 6th percentile in the nation for academic achievements and deserves our praise and support.

This has been a bottom up "Renaissaince"......starting with aggressive attention and work at the lower level  Elementary and Middle "feeder" Schools, by Students, Parents, Teachers, and Administrators, and we can't stop now!!!

Maintaining the growth and momentum we achieved over the last decade, is going to be a huge challenge facing our local PTA's and youth organizations going forward. The current positive economic forecasts are too little , too late to make a postive $$$$ impact. In essence , it is up to every family to help shoulder the burden to help pick up the slack.

State cuts are going to be rough. Up to $200 per student .

On the positive side we have a group of dedicated active parents , passionate and energized to meet these challenges, but we need ALL HANDS ON DECK, to help counter the budgetary shortfalls.

Huge Kudo's to Estancia Dad Steve Menginger and ALL the volunteers that helped with the big fundraiser this month. Costa Mesa United raised over $100,000 at the January 18th Mesa Verde Golf Classic that goes to benefit Youth sports and schools.....but we still need more.

What you can do.....

First opportunity is the Victoria Jog-a-Thon. Help sponser, or even better , help promote and gather sponsers to support this great event. Click on the link Victoria Jog-a-Thon for a downloadable , printable version of the letter that you can use to solicit financial support. Ask businesses, friends, relatives, and help us make this the strongest Jog-a-Thon ever.

The next thing is sign up for the PTA. Stay involved and informed. Time , talent or treasure. Try to donate at least one of these to your kids future.

Lets keep this great legacy booming!!!

State of the Union
"little pun"

Living in the Canyon Park Neighborhood over the years, (Union Ave. for example), we've seen a lot of changes.
Most , if not all, for the best.

Unfortunately, to read the papers or the blogs one would believe that we are living in a dark and unfriendly prelude to the END of DAYS.

One sunny stellar morning last week I witnessed a different scene......

Three houses in my immediate vicinity were going through drastic improvements. New walls, paint , roofs, landscape and irrigation systems, were being installed. Moving vans were lined up with new families moving in. A brand new baby was coming home to a young homeowner couple, who excitedly  showed me the new paint colors they were going to paint thier recently purchased home. Tyvek "paper house" on the corner of Victoria looks amazing.

I would hate to minimize the troubles many are facing through this economic cycle, but judging by the observations occuring right out my window and driving around the neighborhood, I'm sensing a change has come.

We still have a long way to go........but the Westside is definitely in bloom.

 Political Radar

Homeless Task Force -  The city of Costa Mesa is creating a Task force to address the issue of Homelessness and how it affects the city and it's residents. Specifically in the area around the Downtown Rec center and Lion's Park. Applications to join the Task Force can be found here...As this process moves forward I would encourage all residents to keep informed. Public hearings will be made available. Our input regarding this incredibly complex issue , with lots of moving parts, is important.

The Fairgrounds Issue-  This Thursday Jan. 27th the Fair Board holds the next meeting regarding the sale and future of the Fairgrounds. This has been an intense , complicated, roller coaster ride that currently has no end in sight. The three "newly appointed" (by Arnold) Board Members will be seated.

They were supposed to have a surprise Board meeting New Years Day. The sole purpose was to "quit claim" the Deed for the property over to the state. We were able to have that meeting cancelled by appealing to the judge regarding the Temporary Restraining Order against the sale. The New Governors office , through the new AG. , suggested they NOT have the meeting.

This Fair Board is still attempting to move forward the agenda of selling OUR fairgrounds. Piece by piece is they have to.

Our OC Fair was just recently recognized as being the 8th best in the Country. It's the longest running in the State, with the second largest revenues......but.......

 this  FAIR BOARD still DOESN"T GET IT!!!!!  Instead of acting as proper stewards of this treasured asset they continue forward with their plans to dismantle AND SELL IT OFF......

 This THURSDAY , they plan on discussing selling off the Pacific Ampitheatre to a private entity. The current status of the Sale and other issues.

Fair Board Meeting is Thursday , 88 Fair drive, in the Administration Building off Arlington.
The meeting is at 10:00 am sharp. Usually they start the Pledge to the Flag @ 9:55, so be on time.
Agenda can be found here.

Watchdogs are encouraged to attend......!!!!

I've gotten long winded in this blog version.....that's what I get for taking so long between updates.

Next up I want to introduce you to the Westside Mora Family. Our prayers are with you Vilma. 

I am glad your home help in any way you can with this wonderful family, please contact me @

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Westside Community Fall Update

The Westside REALLY is The Bestside.........

Huge win for our boys at Estancia High School.
Friday night they stomped the Mustangs , 35-6, to take the 1st place spot in the Orange Coast League in over 21 years. Our favorite son, senior Matt Carlyle ran a punt return for an 83 yard touch-down, if that wasn't exciting enough, you should have been sitting next to his mother Jane.
Sophmore Robert Murtha continues his awesome rushing streak, with the season continuing, he is just 15 yrds. shy of breaking the all time school record for the season.

Battle of the Bell
If you haven't been following our local schools football program it has definitely blossomed over the last couple years. The team has new uniforms, equipment, outdoor weight training facility, not to mention an incredible stadium with an ocean/mountain view. Friday Night lights have never shown brighter on the Westside.
They need your support!

Upcoming Fundraiser "Retire The Debt"

November 17th.     4:00 - 10:00
Avila's El Ranchito Restaurant   2101 Placentia Ave. 
20% of all dinner tabs go to help the Eagles.
How easy is that..?      Just go and have dinner at Avila's...don't have to twist my arm...

Retire the Debt on Facebook

The Great Fairgrounds Saga continues.........

Local Business Owners Sue to STOP THE SALE

Petition Link

Is it sold?.............not yet.
The partnership between the city of Costa Mesa and the Private Developer FMW is dead.
In fact, our dance partner FMW dumped us and went to the prom alone without us.....
The Governator forges ahead with his cronies in his effort to privatize the Fairgrounds for profit. It currently is in "escrow",with FMW, in a crazy deal that nets the State $20 million up front , yet finances the remaining balance over forty years. Hows that helping our budget?

This Friday, another slap in the face , when Costa Mesan Fair Board Member Dave Padilla was unceremoniously, thrown off his seat. He has been an outspoken critic of the sale, or in other words, has been doing his appointed responsiblity in stewarding our public asset.

Padilla taken off Fair Board

This fight is still raging on.........

Strong Fair Advocate Assemblyman Jim Silva

During a recent Meg Whitman for Governor rally, we were able to meet and garner suppotrt from every elected official attending the event. Jim Silva, Bill Campbell, Diane Harkey, Wendy Leece, and even the unvictorious Governor hopeful Meg Whitman.

This sale will have to have the blessing of the legislature and it is being watched carefully. While our new 68th Assemblyman-elect Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor has yet to make a statement, Assemblyman Jose Solorio has taken a stance opposing the sale and has legislation to kill the deal once and for all.

With a new Sheriff coming to town , Gov. elect Jerry Brown has shown no favor to this sale and in fact , even suspended legal representation to the Fair Board, as attorney general.

The clock is ticking......and we are holding our breath waitng for the other shoe to drop......
This week expect a new development.....

To stay informed check out this organization

Also on Facebook current updates and comments posted regularly    Facebook Derail the Sale

Alls "Not" Quiet on the Western Front.......Politically speaking!

Election Results!
New Council Members- Elect  Planning Commissioner Jim Righeimer, and
 Westside resident and incumbent Mayor pro tem Wendy Leece. Congratulations to you both!

The Westside longtime resident Chris McEvoy failed in his second attempt running for a seat.

JIM RIGHEIMER12,93431.7%
* WENDY LEECE11,53028.2%
CHRIS MCEVOY10,80326.4%

Council Member Katrina Foley successfully won a seat on the Newport Mesa School Board and will be leaving her council seat Dec. 14th, creating an opening for the new council to fill.
Foleys Upcoming Vacancy

Also City Manager Allan Roeder has announced his retirement after 25 years of service. 

Definitely a transitional period for our city's civic governance
Current Westside issues.......
Project Mobility, Yeah, I know....stupid name......great idea.

The Planning Commission in a recent study session is exploring an East/west bike trail connection from the Santa Ana River to Upper Newport Back Bay.
Community involvement would greatly help this project. Especially in the first planning stages.
City Study Bike Trail Connection

Santa ana River trail
Code Enhancement Pilot Program......

The Code Enhancement Pilot Program Target Area is the Sunshine home neighborhood. This area is Bordered by Estancia High school to the North, Placentia to the East, W. Wilson to the South and Republic to the West.
Basically the two main streets are Darrell and JoAnn. 

I 've been getting mixed signals on this issue. I've been told that they are NOT targeting Tradespeople work trucks with racks parked in front of their houses. Yet, while walking neighborhoods I met a resident who WAS ticketed for having his work truck in his driveway. He showed me his truck, a regular Ford , with a welded metal rack, and his name and phone number painted on the door. The resident also showing me a ticket he received, stating that it was classified AS A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE.
IMHO , this is completely Draconian, and ill-serves the residents of this community.

The issue regarding inoperative and commercial vehicles has been passed unanimously by the Planning Commission and is headed for the City council. 

I'm working on getting some clarification regarding if this is going to include work trucks. So far no answer.

I hate to come right out swinging at Jim Righeimer but this has been his issue. For some reason he really doesn't understand that people who work for a living like to park in their driveways. The other pet peeve of his is RV's in driveways. On the bright side , they are speedily green lighting more commericial parking storage facilities in the city. So when you are told to move it, there might be new spaces you can rent. 

City Council hears this item on Tuesday Nov. 16th

Council Meeting Agenda Nov.16th

I'll keep updating any current developments...........

***UPDATE   Steve Mensinger just replied back to my questions regarding work trucks.

"In terms of your question
Pickups and those with racks are exempt. The code applies to commercial vehicles over a certain size."

Enjoy the Indian Summer.........